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Employment tribunal awards £400,000 to woman who suffered discriminatory harassment

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Cardiff Employment Tribunal have awarded a former employee of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a substantial sum, further to ruling that she was subjected to ongoing unwanted treatment which amounted to acts of racial and age related harassment.

The action was brought by an employee who claimed that the DWP had directly discriminated against her on the grounds of her age and race, as well as subjecting her to harassment by unwanted conduct relevant to these characteristics. The tribunal heard that the claimant was the only trainee of a minority ethnicity and the only trainee over the age of 50.

In their judgment, the tribunal found that the claimant had been subjected to highly offensive racial terminology by her colleagues, throughout the course of her employment. The claimant was dismissed by the respondent, as a result of absences related to the treatment to which she was subjected. The claimant maintained that this treatment caused her to suffer ‘real financial hardship’.

The tribunal heard that the claimant’s colleagues had dismissed their conduct towards her as ‘banter’. The ruling of the tribunal highlights the need for employers and employees to understand the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable conduct in the workplace.

What is the definition of discrimination?

Under the Equality Act 2010, discrimination is the unequal treatment of an individual/individuals on the grounds of one or more of a protected characteristic. The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy and maternity

If you feel that you have been treated differently or have been subjected to a detriment due to any of these protected characteristics, please call our specialist discrimination team for further advice on 01616 966 229

By Lucy Bishop, graduate paralegal in the employment and discrimination team

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